An ode to Mario Kart

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I can’t tell you how many countless hours I spent playing Mario Kart. I was first introduced to it around age four with my dad on the old Super Nintendo consoles, and I kept playing with my cousins and friends through my adolescence. As I got older, I played a newer version of the same game on the Nintendo 64 and Wii consoles with my roommates in college. Throughout the years, this game has provided more fun than any other, and with apologies to Super Smash Brothers, I really think this is my favorite video game of all-time.

Part of what makes it so great is its universal appeal. My sister and I turned on the old Nintendo 64 recently and played for an hour or two. She is far from a video game fan, but she loves Mario Kart. It’s understandable; how could anybody not like it?

It’s a simple concept: three laps, eight racers, and one winner. If you want to trade top end speed for increased acceleration, then you should pick the smaller characters like Toad and Yoshi. If power and stability is a priority, then you’ll want to go with Bowser or Donkey Kong. Everybody else is a healthy balance of both.

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Of course if you’re like me then the actual racing aspect of the game is secondary. The real fun comes from blasting people with the various power up items you can pick up while driving. Winning a race is decent fun, but drilling your buddy with a green shell and ruining his chances to win is the best feeling there is. (Red shells are effective, too, but they’re heat seeking so it’s almost too easy.)

This game was a staple of my childhood and teenage years, and I honestly still enjoy it. I can only hope there’s still one around to play as I get older; I can’t let the younger generation grow old without being blindsided by a turtle shell. It’s a rite of passage.